The NHL and the NHLPA need to take a long look in the mirror and become more proactive instead of reactive when it comes to protecting its players.
I am sick and tired of issues coming up after the fact, and then nothing is done about it until the next time it becomes a problem.
Three incidents in the past month, all of the very scary variety, and all of a sudden they are hot-button issues. Erik Karlsson get sliced by a skate, and Kevlar socks are all the rage…until Marc Staal gets blasted in the eye with a puck, and then mandatory visors become the topic du jour. Then last night Dave Dziurzynski gets knocked out cold by Frazer McLaren during a fight that had nothing to do with the play, but was staged, as Zack Smith stated after the game that McLaren asked Dziurzynski to go as soon as they stepped on the ice, before the faceoff.
I am all for fighting in the NHL when it is a reaction to something that has happened on the ice. A player taking liberties with one of your players, sometimes matters need to be taken into your own hands, like Zdeno Chara did to Alexei Emelin earlier this week. Emelin cross-checked Tyler Seguin in the ribs away from the play and paid the price for his actions.
But staged fighting, right off the whistle, is not a part of the game. It is an attempt for a fringe NHLer to show that he has a purpose in the lineup so he can keep his job. Would the Fraser McLarens, John Scotts, Brian McGrattans of the world be in the NHL if there was no fighting? Probably not.
Its time for the league to crack down on this trend before someone gets killed. These goons are becoming too big and when they can’t play the game its time to get rid of them.
And as for the visor issue, would it stop all eye injuries? Maybe not, but you can rest assured that if Marc Staal had been wearing one, he would be in the lineup for the Rangers when they face the Senators Friday, not sitting around wondering if he will get back into the lineup, and when. All players entering the league now have worn visors their entire lives, some wearing full masks if they come from the NCAA. Its time to take away the choice for those players coming into the league to wear a visor or not, just like they did for helmets so many years ago.
As for the socks, the Karlsson injury was a one-off absolutely freak injury, but with the speed of the game, the number of pileups and scrums, especailly in the crease, and the sharpness of the blades, its almost crazy to think it hasn’t happened before. Players would be silly not to make them protect themselves as much as possible.
It is too late for them to get out front of these issues, but now its time for the leaders of the game, in the NHL and NHLPA to at least stem the tide so they don’t happen as often. Freak occurrences are going to happen and you will never be able to entirely eliminate them. But someday someone is going to get killed on the ice and it will cast a shadow over the great game if something wasn’t done to at least reduce the chances of something tragic happening.